Cities and Private Planning
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Cities and Private Planning

Property Rights, Entrepreneurship and Transaction Costs

Edited by David Emanuel Andersson and Stefano Moroni

Through comprehensive case studies of privately planned cities and neighbourhood in Asia, Europe and North America, this book characterizes the theoretical basis and empirical manifestations of private urban planning. In this innovative volume, Andersson and Moroni develop an understudied aspect of urban planning and re-evaluate conceptions of our urban future.
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Chapter 3: Towards a general theory of contractual communities: neither necessarily gated, nor a form of privatization

Stefano Moroni


Over the past 20 years there has been a great deal of scholarly interest in the phenomenon of homeowner associations, as well as related interest in co-housing, commons, and other non-governmental planning phenomena. What tends to happen is that each of these phenomena is dealt with individually, that is, independently of one another; furthermore, in many cases they are treated as if they instantiate completely different–at times even conflicting–issues. The aim of this chapter is to move towards a general theory of contractual communities; that is, a theory that takes account of this assortment of discrete phenomena as inter-related issues that are by no means at odds with one another. In the next section, I propose a definition of ‘contractual community.’ In the following section, I identify the three main types of this kind of community. In short, there are ten similarities and two principal differences among forms of contractual community. The penultimate section proposes a non-ideological interpretation of the emergence and spread of contractual communities. In the conclusion, I stress the importance of the institutional dimension of contractual communities and the role of competition among different types of community.

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